Penelope Pinehurst didn't reach the ripe old age of twenty-five without knowing what the townspeople call her behind her back: Not So Pretty Penny. So when her neighbor declares his eternal loveciting her beauty among her many attributesshe knows he can only be after one thing: her family's land. With her father and brothers still not home from the war, Penny needs a husband to help her save the farm. But in a country still in recovery, marriageable men are in short supply, leaving her only one choice.
George Washington Brannock is slated to hang for murder, never mind that he was framed. Only the pouch of gold delivered to the sheriff allows him to walk free. Well, almost free. He still has to marry the homely woman who paid for his life. She may have saved him from the gallows, but he's not staying with her forever. He'll help her plant her crops, then he's off to find the man who killed his sister.
Penny knows that Wash is looking for revenge, but she only needs him until her family comes home. Yet with each passing day the hope that her father and brothers will return safely dwindles. Despite her optimism and faith, she begins to believe that she's all alone in the world. All alone except for her husband. The more time she spends with Wash, the more she starts to care for him. She might not be pretty, but she's smart enough to know that when he leaves she'll end up heartbroken.
Wash soon learns that God has given him a second chance. Suddenly his life has meaning. He finds himself not only wanting to stay and farm the harsh Kansas prairie, but falling in love with his wife. Then the killer shows up at the farm and Wash has to choose between the wife he never wanted and the justice he deserves.